Did we get it right?
By Steve Williams
“I think the media are blowing this way out of proportion and are frightening a lot of people unnecessarily.”
Those were the words of Dr. Jerry Punch, longtime ESPN sports broadcaster who now makes his home in this area and is a regular guest on The Sports Animal (WNML radio, 990 AM) on Monday afternoons.
His statement was made on the March 9 show.
I can’t wait for what he says today.
Don’t get me wrong. I respect what Dr. Punch has to say. And the coronavirus pandemic has been a very fluid topic.
Two days after his comment last week, Utah Jazz basketball player Rudy Gobert was announced as having been detected with the coronavirus.
The next morning, the SEC announced it was cancelling the remainder of its post-season tournament about 90 minutes before Tennessee and Alabama were to tip off at 1 p.m. After that, one by one, other Power 5 conferences cancelled their tournaments.
By Thursday afternoon, Mark Emmert, NCAA President, had cancelled the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. March Madness, one of sports’ greatest attractions, would not be seen this year. Teams and seniors who had looked forward to going to the Big Dance were left on the sideline.
Other major sports, if they hadn’t already, would soon follow the same path, cancelling, suspending or delaying their games.
Major League Baseball pushed its first pitch back two weeks. The Masters wouldn’t tee off until after April for the first time since World War II. The Boston Marathon postponed its famous run until September.
I scratched my head trying to figure out why the TSSAA girls’ state basketball tournament was safe enough to play its games on Thursday with limited fans in Murfreesboro when the nearby SEC basketball tournament in Nashville never took the court.
I wondered how high school baseball and softball teams could play in Knoxville on Thursday just hours after it was deemed unsafe to play in all those Power 5 conference tourneys.
I also snickered when the NCAA cancelled all of its spring sports championship events months ahead of time and Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt was allowed to decide if the Vols could have spring football practice last week.
Look, I’m all for being safe and guarding against spreading germs. It’s not hard to do. Just wash your hands often, fist bump and avoid crowds. Those are the instructions I’ve been hearing time and time again.
I’ve also heard young athletes in good health would easily get over the coronavirus if they came down with it. So, why couldn’t we have let the college guys and gals play without the thousands of fans in the arenas?
I could have filled out a bracket and they could have had one shining moment.
Was common sense used when dealing with coronavirus?
That’s what I would like to ask Dr. Punch today.